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Post Info TOPIC: BBTC directed to return 8,000-acre tea estate to TN


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BBTC directed to return 8,000-acre tea estate to TN


Oct 04 2015 : The Times of India (Chennai)
BBTC directed to return 8,000-acre tea estate to TN
Within months of Madras high court paving the way for the return of 80,000 to 1lakh acres of Janmam estate lands (zamindari land) in the Nilgiris from private possession to the government, a sessions court in Tirunelveli has declared that 8,373 acres of the Manjolai estate belongs to government and that Bombay Burmah Trading Corpn (BBTC) is merely a lessee.

A stretch of 8,373 acres of land came into BBTC's possession after the Singampatti zamindari gave it for 99 years of lease in 1929. However, a total of 22,972 hectares, including the leased lands belonging to the zamindar, were taken over by government in 1952 under Estate Abolition Act, 1948.The company , part of Nusli Wadia's Bombay Dyeing group, then executed a fresh agreement with government and retained the land by agreeing to abide by additional conditions. The land is part of a tea estate, one among a chain of plantations that BBTC manages in south India. The present petition was filed after the area's tahsildar refused to give patta and other ownership documents to BBTC.

The I additional district and sessions judge of Tirunelveli, P Dhanabal, upholding the tahsildar's decision, concurred with the submissions of special government pleader (forests), M K Subra manian, while ruling: “It is crystal clear that the cultivable land means actually cultivable at the time of assignment, not subsequently converted as cultivable by improving it. In this case, the property is a forest land located 18km from foothills. In the lease deed, it is clearly mentioned that the land is minor forest, and the company also admitted that they developed the properties by investing huge money .“

The moment the court held that it was a forest land, and not cultivable (ryotwari) land as claimed by the company , the ownership would vest with government alone.“Government is the owner of the property , and the company is only lessee. The property, therefore, is at the disposal of the government,“ Dhanabal said in his order.

The judge also rejected BBTC's argument that it had spent huge sums on developing the land. He said it would be entitled to claim money through separate proceedings as per the lease deed.


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